THE HISTORY OF

A FIELD BATTERY
ROYAL AUSTRALIAN ARTILLERY



The history of A Field Battery is a long and proud one full of historical events and outstanding achievements.   Ever Gunner that ever served in A Field Battery throughout time should stand tall and be significantly proud to have been part of the Batteries history.

 



Before 1870, each Colony in Australia had become responsible for the defence of their principal ports. Towards the end of 1870 the last Imperial Garrison, Royal Garrison Artillery, withdrew from New South Wales. The New South Wales Government passed an Act, allowing for the raising of the first Permanent Military Force in Australia. On the first of August 1871, A Battery New South Wales Artillery was formed, a unit which has existed continuously ever since although under many different designations.

On the same day the following appointments were made by the Governor of New South Wales:

  • John Soame Richardson to be Lieutenant Colonel of the New South Wales Infantry and also Commandant of the Permanent and Volunteer Military Forces

  • George John Airey Lieutenant to be the First Captain of the New South Wales Artillery.

  • Warner Wright Spalding to be the Second Captain of the New South Wales Artillery.

  • Henry Thomas Green, an ex-sergeant of the Royal Horse Artillery, being the first non-commissioned man enlisted in the Permanent Forces, was allotted Regimental Number One.


 Sudan Campaign

In February 1885, the New South Wales Government offered a Battery of Artillery and a Battalion of Infantry for service in the Sudan. On the offer being accepted by the British Government, A Field Battery was assembled from the New South Wales Artillery and was ready for embarkation within two weeks. The Battery sailed on the 3rd March 1885 on the transport Iberia and Australasia. The Battery landed in Suakim on the 30th and 31st March, but was to see limited action as the campaign was almost at an end. The Battery embarked on the 17th May 1885 for return to Australia and was commended by the Commander-in-Chief, Sudan, Lord Wolsley for its most soldier-like appearance and exemplary conduct at a review a few days previously.


 South African War

In 1899, when the South African war commenced, all the Colonies in Australia offered military assistance to England. These offers were accepted in that the Colonies were requested to send mounted infantry or light horse only. After the action at Magersfontain, New South Wales offered to send a battery of Artillery to South Africa. This offer was accepted and immediately A Battery Royal Australian Artillery was formed from Officers and Men of A Battery New South Wales Artillery, and on 30th December 1899 on the transport to Warrigal, the Battery embarked from Sydney to South Africa. A Battery having completed about 18 months of continuous active service, was order home in July 1901. The Battery embarked at Cape Town on the transport Harlech Castle on the 12 August 1901 and arrived in Sydney on the 15th September 1901. During its service in South Africa, A Battery had one man killed in action, one man died after being kicked by a horse, while 45 men were invalided home through sickness. On the 1st December 1910 A Instruction Cadre was redesignated as No 1 Battery Australian Field Artillery (Permanent).


 The Great War

When the Great War broke out in August 1914, the then commander of No 1 Battery Royal Australian Field Artillery, Major S.E. Christian, called a muster parade of the Battery at Victoria Barracks on the day war was declared and called for volunteers for an Australian overseas force. The Battery stepped forward as one man. The Battery sailed with the first convoy in 1914 and embarked at Egypt with the Australian Imperial Force for Gallipoli. The Battery served with distinction in France and Belgium in all the actions fought by its Division. It also, at various times, supported British, Canadian, French and American attacks against the Germans. During the visit of the Prince of Wales in 1919, the Battery provided the Royal Guard at Government House and also provided the mounted escort for His Royal Highness on all State occasions in Sydney. During the Prince's visit to Canberra for the dedication of the proposed site for the future Parliament House of the Commonwealth, No 1 Battery Royal Australian Field Artillery, provided both the personal escort for the Prince and also the Saluting Battery.

On the occasion of the visit of the Prince of Wales to Australia, in appreciation of No 1 Battery Royal Australian Field Artillery service to himself and also to commemorate the Battery's service in the South African and Great Wars, the Prince granted No 1 Battery Royal Australian Field Artillery the privilege of wearing a white lanyard on the left shoulder. A Field Battery Royal Australian Artillery is the only Battery in the Royal Australian Artillery which wears it's lanyard on the left shoulder.


 1927 - 1936

On the 1st July 1927, No 1 Battery was redesignated as 1st Field Battery Royal Australian Artillery. On the 19th July 1930 it became the 1st Field Cadre Royal Australian Artillery and on the 31st January 1936 the Battery was redesignated 1st Field Cadre Australian Artillery Regiment. When His Majesty granted the title "Royal" to Militia Units of the Australian Artillery, the Permanent Artillery became and still is "The Royal Australian Artillery Regiment".


 1937 - 1939

In 1937 the first Australian Instructional Corps Artillery Course was designed to produce instructors. With the Munich scare in 1938 the strength of the Battery was increased and on the 1st February 1939 the Battery was redesignated as A Field Battery Royal Australian Artillery Regiment.


 World War Two

With the outbreak of the 2nd World War in September 1939, A Field Battery once again volunteered for overseas service but were denied at that time the privilege, as they were employed as the Depot Battery instructing at the School of Artillery (Field, Medium and Survey) and also at Holsworthy, however their opportunity came in 1943 when on the 28th July A Field Battery Royal Australian Artillery Regiment was redesignated 2nd Mountain Battery and on the 1st September, departed for New Guinea as a special Artillery Unit with a special task, and arrived in Port Moresby on the 19th September 1943. After considerable training and acclimatization, the Battery left for Lae by air on the 15th November 1943.

On the 11th November 1944 the Battery arrived at Torokina and remained there until the cessation of hostilities in 1945. A small cadre from 2nd Mountain Battery joined troops at RAA Headquarters and Balikpapan and on 7th October 1945 formed the 6th Independent Field Battery and departed for Morotai, Japan. On the 21st February, 2nd Mountain Battery was redesignated A Field Battery Royal Australian Regiment and carried out intensive training at Kataiche, conducted shoots on the Haramura Range and located guns and arsenals in Japan. In 1947 the Battery occupied permanent barracks at Hiro and were utilized performing ceremonial duties including salutes and guards of honour. A Field Battery provided saluting troops at Tokyo, Kure and Hiro on the occasion of the Wedding of Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth (Queen Elizabeth the Second). In September 1948 the advance party of the Battery left Japan and A Field Battery arrived in Sydney on the 22nd December 1948 and moved to North Head Manly, once again becoming the Depot Battery for the School of Artillery.


 1949 - 1956

On 25th May 1949, A Field Battery was incorporated as a sub-unit of 1st Field Regiment Royal Australian Artillery Regiment, thus losing its independent status. Even though the Battery was a sub-unit of 1st Field Regiment, the Battery continued to act as the Depot Battery for the School of Artillery and also performing ceremonial duties. In January 1950, King George VI approved of the Royal Australian Artillery adopting the Motto of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, "QUO FAS ET GLORIA DUCUNT" (Where Right and Glory Lead) instead of "CONSENSU STABILES" (Strong in Agreement). On 28th November 1951, A Field Battery Royal Australian Artillery was given custody of the King's Banner at a formal parade held at Rawson Oval, Mosman NSW.

On the grounds of a compromise reached on the 30th November 1954, A Battery, because of its history, would remain as A Field Battery whilst all other batteries would bear a numerical designation.


 Malaya Campaign

On the 1st September 1957, the Battery once again became an independent unit and on the 20th September embarked on the transport "New Australia" and disembarked at Penang on the 18th October 1957. During operations in Malaya the Battery fired 77,000 rounds of 25-Pounder ammunition and 2,000 rounds of 4.2" Mortar ammunition. During its tour of Malaya the Battery supported several Commonwealth Infantry Battalions and was closely associated with the 48th Field Regiment Royal Artillery and the 2nd Field Regiment Royal Artillery. The Battery embarked at Penang on the transport "MV Flaminia" on the 5th October 1959. On returning to Sydney the Battery once again lost its independent status and rejoined 1st Field Regiment Royal Australian Artillery at Holsworthy.

In January 1965, A Field Battery, equipped with 105mm Pack Howitzers, prepared for its second tour to Malaysia. On 23rd June 1965 the Battery regained its independent status. After and air journey with Qantas, the Battery joined the 28th Commonwealth Infantry Brigade at Terendak Garrison, near Malacca, on the 21st October 1965 as A Field Battery 45th Light Regiment Royal Artillery. 45th Light Regiment Royal Artillery was replaced by 6th Light Regiment Royal Artillery in early 1966 and the Battery's title became A Field Battery 6th Light Regiment Royal Artillery. During its tour of Malaya the Battery participated in frequent exercises on both the east and west coast, and assisted with security measure to guard against possible Indonesian infiltration of West Malaysia. On 12th September 1967 the Battery returned to Australia by air and became A Field Battery 19 Composite Regiment Royal Australian Artillery at Holsworthy. In October 1969 the Battery was redesignated A Field Battery 12th Field Regiment Royal Australian Artillery.


 Vietnam Campaign

12th Field Regiment was warned for service in South Vietnam in 1971 and the Regiment moved from Tobruk Lines Holsworthy to Lavarack Barracks in Townsville in January 1970. On 26th January 1971 the Battery assembled in Sydney and on a parade at Victoria Barracks A Field Battery, in view of the approach of its centenary birthday and its long association in Sydney, was granted Freedom of the City of Sydney, by the Right Honourable, the Lord Mayer of Sydney. On the 27th January 1971 the advance party emplaned for South Vietnam where it was joined by the main body at the 1st Australian Task Force base at Nui Dat on 4th February 1971. A Field Battery and the rest of 12th Field Regiment took part in operations in Phuoc Tuy province until the withdrawal of the 1st Australian Task Force in November 1971. On the 7th June 1971 during a contact with North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces, Second Lieutenant I. Mathers, an A Field Battery forward observer, received mortal wounds from enemy small arms fire. His assistant, Bombardier P.M. Maher, was later awarded the Military Medal for his part in the contact. During its tour of South Vietnam A Field Battery celebrated its centenary birthday on 1st August 1971. A Banner Party was sent home to Australia for the Centenary Celebration Parade at Victoria Barracks Sydney where His Excellency the Governor General Sir Paul Hasluck presented to the Royal Australian Artillery the Queen's Banner which replaced the 67 year old King's Banner. In addition 50 cartridge cases, fired by the Battery to celebrate its centenary, were presented to various persons and organisations (including the Australian War Memorial which also holds the cartridge case of the first round fired by A Field Battery in South Africa in 1900).


A Field Battery Memorial

On 25th April 1972 a detachment from the Battery laid up the King's Banner at the Australian War Memorial as part of the Anzac Day Commemoration Service. On the 29th July 1972 at a Battery Parade at Victoria Barracks, His Excellency the Governor General of New South Wales Sir Roden Cutler unveiled the A Field Battery Memorial. The Memorial is a 16-Pounder rifled muzzle-loaded gun made in England in 1878 and believed to be the oldest gun of British origin in Australia. The unveiling concluded the centenary celebrations. After the amalgamation of the Regiments, A Field Battery became a sub-unit of the 8th/12th Medium Regiment Royal Australian Artillery in 1974. On the 2nd December 1987 A Field Battery, during a Regimental Mounted Parade fired a salute in honour of the 102nd Medium Battery 8th/12th Medium Regiment Royal Australian Artillery, at the sad occasion of their disbandment. It was also during this period that A Field Battery assumed the parachute role as part of the recently designated Parachute Battalion Group, based on the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. In 2000, A Field Battery became the third battery of the Townsville-based 4th Field Regiment, however it remained in Holsworthy. It deployed to East Timor in 1999, 2002 and more recently in 2006. Its personnel have also served in recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and on non-warlike service in the Sinai.

 
 
     
                                                                                                                                                                                        
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